Why More College Athletes Are Coming Out

athletes coming out

Out athletes continue to have a positive effect on younger generations.

This past summer, we watched as 40-plus openly gay athletes competed in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. It was a record-setting mark and one that apparently had a positive effect, because that same trend is continuing at the college level.

Outsports.com recently reported that there are at least 50 college athletes who have publicly identified as LGBT. Current statistics reflect a 35 percent increase in open LGBT athlete visibility from last year to last year.

Why does it matter?

The answer is simple: there’s an obvious trickle down effect. When LGBT athletes, who are struggling with their sexuality or their decision to come out, see other out and open athletes participating in sports at the college or professional level, it has a positive influence. It reinforces their belief that they can be who they are wholly and completely—as an athlete, as an LGBT individual, as a human being.

Bree Horrocks is a junior at Purdue University. She’s a basketball player. She’s also a lesbian. Horrocks came out last year at the start of the NCAA Tournament and hasn’t looked back since.

“It’s inspiring to see the best athletes in the world being their authentic selves,” she said. “If at the highest level they can be successful and live open and out then why can’t college athletes? Seeing players like Brittney Griner and Seimone Augustus definitely influenced me.”

Horrocks added that seeing out and proud athletes at the college level was important to her, because it was her next step at the time. Now,she’s paying attention to those pro athletes who are out because that’s where she plans to go from here. And she’s not the only one paying attention. As more and more athletes come out and compete openly, others will feel empowered to do the same.

“I do believe more and more college athletes will come out as the year progresses,” Horrocks speculated. “Especially in women’s basketball and other women’s sports because of the wide range of support and media on lesbian athletes. For men I think the progression will be slower, but I really hope to see a positive shift in male athletics and see more men elite athletes living their authentic lives.”